This past week we caught up with the Yes campaign Chief Executive Blair Jenkins for a quick interview.
Thank you Blair for taking the time totalk with us. First of all can you tell us a little about yourselfand how you came to be the Chief Executive of the Yes Campaign.
|Yes Campaigns Blair Jenkins|
My background isin journalism and broadcasting. I’m not a member of any politicalparty and I’ve never engaged in any form of political activity.I’ve been Head of News and Current Affairs at both STV and BBCScotland, among other senior roles. I chaired the ScottishBroadcasting Commission and most recently, as a Fellow of theCarnegie UK Trust, I published a report on the future of news –“Better Journalism in the Digital Age”.
I decided earlierthis year that I would for the first time declare publicly my viewson an independent Scotland, because I believe passionately that thisis the right future for our country. After I had spoken at the Yeslaunch event, a number of people suggested that I should become moreactively involved in the campaign. When I was approached aboutbecoming Chief Executive, I knew right away that it was something Ihad to do. I’ve only ever campaigned for better journalism andbetter broadcasting. Now I’m campaigning for a better Scotland.
-For many this debate is being centredaround personalities and personal opinions of individuals. Both sidesseem to be waiting for the other to outline their case. Will the YesCampaign be the first to put forth their argument?
Yes Scotland hasset out what we regard as the core argument for independence – thatit is fundamentally better for all of us if decisions about ourfuture are taken by the people who care most about Scotland. Thatmeans the people of Scotland, making our own decisions and living byour own values. We will produce more detailed arguments as thecampaign develops because there is no doubt there is a great appetitein Scotland for information about independence.
-For many Labour voters, there is afeeling that voting for independence means a betrayal of the party,by showing support for the SNPs' main policy. How would you addresssuch worries?
Lots of Labourvoters in Scotland support the idea of an independent Scotland, as domany members and supporters of all the other parties. This is anissue that transcends party politics. We know that a great manyLabour voters are attracted by the prospect of helping to build afairer society that is more likely to chime with their values andbeliefs. Another point in favour of independence that often comes upin discussion with Labour supporters is the prospect of having thebest of the talent in the Labour Party serving in the ScottishParliament rather than at Westminster.
-With support for the independence campaign falling to 30% in thepolls, would you agree with the need for a second question. If so howwould that work? (If for example only 30% voted yes but 60% voted formore powers and 20% voted no.)
In fact the latest opinion poll suggestssupport for independence standing at 36%, with 45% against and 20% ofpeople saying they have not yet decided how to vote (Panelbase/SundayTimes Scotland). We fully intend and expect that the level of supportwill grow as we produce more information on the benefits ofindependence and more and more people tune into the debate.
On the second question point, that isentirely a matter for the Scottish and Westminster governments toresolve. Yes Scotland will be campaigning for independence only,irrespective of how many questions or options are on the ballotpaper.
-Would you say that there are any political benefits for theLabour party if there was to be an independent Scotland?
I do think it is much more likely inScotland that – whichever party is in office – there will be theadoption of more progressive and socially inclusive policies thanhave been the norm in the UK under successive governments. But thekey point is that all of the political parties will be able to focuson policies and priorities that are right for Scotland. Theindependence debate is really much more about the advantages for thepeople of Scotland rather than the advantages for any particularparty.
-Finally, with the creation of cross party sites, such aswww.labourforindy.co.uk, showing a large number of pro-unionist party voters are in favourof independence. How important to the campaign do you regard thesesites? Also what would you say to those who want to get moreinvolved?
Yes Scotland is delighted to welcome peoplefrom right across the political spectrum – people from all of theparties, and people from none. You can join one of our local groups(32 reflecting Scotland’s local government boundaries)http://www.yesscotland.net/establish_a_local_groupor one of the affiliated groups listed on the website.
Yes Scotland is a “big tent” campaignfighting for the core principle of independence. But we very muchencourage and welcome contributions from organisations andindividuals who wish to present their particular vision of what couldand should happen in the years following a Yes vote. The morepictures of a future Scotland that are painted, the more vivid theyare, the more we start to imagine how we will be able to address ourproblems and seize our opportunities more effectively as anindependent country.
This is a once-in-a-generation opportunityto create a better society, a better Scotland. Please get involved inwhatever way you can. And remember – if each one of us alreadyintending to vote Yes can persuade just one other person in the nexttwo years, then Scotland wins.
Thank you very much for your time Blair.
Good for Scotland? Good for Labour?
By Allan Grogan
Over the next two years, there will becountless headlines, opinions, and righteous self opinions on thecase for Scottish independence. Some will argue that it will lead toa Socialist Utopia, a Northern Kuwait. While others will cite theslow and painful death of a nation, much like the media do now ofScottish football.
Each side are, at the moment, arewaiting for the other to outlay their grand plans, their reasons,their smoking gun which will lead the nation to a Yes or a No vote.So, not being one for getting ahead of myself; this article will notbe about why independence is good for Scotland, but rather why it'sgood for the Labour party.
For years the argument has been, ifyou want independence, vote for the SNP. Well I never have nor intendto, yet we approach the precipice of the nationalist movement. Is itpossible to be pro independence but vote for Labour?
|One of the founders of the Labour party supporting home rule|
The foundations of the Labour partyare closely aligned not only in Scottish politics but Scottishindependence. The founding father of the Labour movement Keir Hardiewas a strong believer of home rule. Yet within the modern Labourparty their seems to be an automatic assumption that the party andparty members must support the union.
But lets suppose it's 2014, the pollshave voted a resounding Yes vote for Scottish Independence. A newScottish Labour party must be formed, independent of Westminster andall its ties. What would that party look like? Would it supportTrident? Would half of their public message be based on a 'Squeezedmiddle?' Where would it stand on education, health? Would it semiprivatise these systems as New Labour did? What would a Labour partylook like when it doesn't have to court the home counties?
Don't misunderstand me, as a BritishLabour party I understand the need to play to the home counties, toMiddle England. Don't get their votes, don't WIN! But do all theissues of Middle England affect Scotland?
I argue that the majority of Scotsvoters are far more liberal than those of the south. While I do notthink that we would have a socialist utopia, nor a death of aconservative force in Scotland, I do believe that the majority ofthis great nation would in fact vote for a real Scottish Labour. ALabour party that returns to its original roots, one of workersrights, education for all, welfare as a hand up not a handout, selfdefence and preservation, while holding a moral standing in theworld.
One of the great qualities we have asa country is also our worst, self deprecation. It's a wonderful tool,that's disarming and charming. But sometimes, its time we showed alittle confidence, some swagger. How many times will we watchScotland play football or Andy Murray play in a grand slam final andsay well, they/he wont win? Why are we as a country such a shy childwho needs someone to tell us that we are worthwhile, that we can dowell? We can make our nation great. We can succeed as an independentcountry.
If for nothing else than a stronger,fairer Labour party who will fight for your needs; not those ofSussex or Hampshire, then the answer has to be YES!